[their] little series.”
The initial Wood Shoppe idea was born over a night of ramen, where Acacia Newlon pitched her idea of a new music discovery night in SF to Robin Kim and Wilson Zheng. Little did she know, Zheng’s co-worker Zach Cepin at High Road Touring had a similar idea. With another co-worker of theirs, Abby Sprague, looped in, the Wood Shoppe crew of five was solidified. “It gelled really organically,” they say.
Their kick-off took place on February 7, 2012, with a DJ set from Painted Palms and sets from Wet Illustrated and Noah Gundersen. When picking bands that have played Wood Shoppe over the years, they say they’ve been going for new bands and artists who lived in California with, of course, a local spin. The bands they went after, they explain, were ones they “thought had a bit of an audience but could benefit by being a part of [the] night.” Being local, however, wasn’t always necessary — when they were able to book a national or international band who were touring with bigger names, they reminisce that “that was like finding a cigarette in your inside jacket pocket after a long night of partying.”
Another integral part of the equation was the “100%” conscious decision to celebrate their night on Tuesday. Understandably, it was an off night of the week and one that was easier to get a venue to give them. By and large, that venue was the Brick & Mortar Music Hall.
While the changing landscape of the music industry in the Bay Area hasn’t affected how the crew approached their series, its cost of living, combined with a refusal to repeat themselves, meant that local artists available to play the series started to decline. That’s not to say local artists still had their back. Wood Shoppe “started this night with strong support from local musicians,” though, in another keen analogy, they “started to run that well dry.”
Beyond that reason, why decide to pack up the series? They put it in three easy, understandable ways: “Life, getting older, lack of time.” Wood Shoppe was seemingly a passion project among all five, worked on between full-time jobs and other obligations. While they accomplished a lot in their time together as Wood Shoppe, it wasn’t something they could see keeping up in the long-term. After the final show, their legacy will live on in memories, colorful show posters, and all of that wrapped up together in a wonderful Tumblr-powered website.
The inaugural Wood Shoppe lineup, February 7, 2012. Recognize any of these names?
Members Wilson Zheng and Zachary Cepin poured out their Wood Shoppe hearts to us to reminisce about the good times of the series, from fateful beginnings to pet and travel-filled futures.
The Bay Bridged: What is your background, in music and otherwise? How did you land in the Wood Shoppe crew?
Wilson Zheng: I played piano growing up, and always loved going to shows in high school and since then, my curiosity for new music has never changed. I loved being involved at KALX Radio in Berkeley when I was in college.
Zachary Cepin: I’m a booking agent at High Road Touring, but my life changed forever when hearing Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on LA’s KROQ at the ripe age of nine. I’d never heard distorted guitars before. I was hooked. From there, although she probably thought I was at friends’, it was borrowing my mom’s car to attend shows, playing guitar in bands, putting on shows and developing a hardcore scene in my town of Salinas, CA, working at High Road…and subsequently, starting Wood Shoppe.
TBB: What do you feel the impact of Wood Shoppe has been on the Bay Area music scene?
WZ: I think it’s been a positive opportunity to bring the local music scene together. Each month, we’d have a different DJ from our community play music of their choice.
ZC: Wood Shoppe has given the music industry in the Bay Area a sense of community. It’s allowed myself and others a chance to meet people in the industry we didn’t know existed, and a place for artists to develop their chops and live show in front of an audience. There was never a night in SF I could pinpoint as a night for music discovery, one of the main reasons we started it. All that, beyond a monthly excuse to be deathly hung over come Wednesday.
TBB: What has been your favorite Wood Shoppe show/moment/memory?
WZ: Kevin Morby headlining our 2nd anniversary. Harlem River is one of my favorite records to this day.
We did Wood Shoppe Summer Camp last July, which was also so much fun. More than 100 people, in a small forest, enjoying a summer afternoon of music. My friend Michael even did a few minutes of stand-up while we ate pizzas and sat on logs.
Also someone proposed to their girlfriend on stage at one of the shows. I had tears.
ZC: Our first July Wood Shoppe — July 3, 2012 with Colleen Green and White Fang. It was the first time I can recall us having a line down the block, people who couldn’t get in…and virtually all my friends in were in attendance. It was like our night had made it, it was the place to be and [it was] assurance that all the work we’d been doing was worth the time, stress, and effort.
TBB: List three emotions you’re feeling right now about the final chapter of Wood Shoppe. 1, 2, 3, go!
WZ: Sadness, excitement, relief.
ZC: Loss, relief, and wonder.
TBB: What’s next for you and the Wood Shoppe crew?
WZ: The three of us will probably be at a lot of shows this fall.
On my end, the goal is to go and see a little bit more of the world when I have some time off. I’ve never been to Spain and I’d like to do that next. Also, the zoo. I haven’t been to the zoo since I was 11.
ZC: Adopting a cat, booking more bands, going to more shows, and developing a new hobby to make up for my newfound free time.
TBB: Do you have any final words to say to Wood Shoppe’s memory or the fans and musicians who have stuck by the series over the years?
WZ: Thanks for all the good times!
ZC: Thanks to Michael O’Connor, Jason Perkins, and the staff at the Brick & Mortar for giving us a chance, the people who came back time and time again, the artists who played, agents who trusted us, my friends who continued to be supportive although we all had to get up early Wednesday morning…and extra-special shout-out to Casey Koon, the only person who arguably attended more Wood Shoppes than me.
Hearing these stories, it’s clear that this night had been dearly beloved among its community, and its send-off will surely be a night to remember and, perhaps, a tear-soaked nostalgia bomb. Word around the street is that Zheng will play his UC Berkeley recital video over projector to kick off the night. As for any other surprises, that’s for you to discover. (“FML, now we gotta come up w/ a new surprise…”)
The Final Wood Shoppe with Spooky Mansion, The Regrettes, Bam!Bam! (with DJ Chad Salty)
Brick & Mortar Music Hall
October 4, 2016
8pm, Free (18+)